By God’s mercy I am now on the bus to Hamburg – but that whole story will come later.

My three weeks in Denmark flew by. It was so bittersweet to leave my host family, as they had really included me into their day to day life. As the father told me, I got to be involved in just a small part of what they do – I didn’t see the cheese making, sausage making, and other things they’ve done other years with more volunteers. I do believe my weeks volunteering there were God’s timing, as partway through the second week the father was injured trying to stop their rolling car from crashing into a statue. He took the whole impact, crushed between the two objects, but God rescued him from the clamp and repaired his lungs and organs so nothing was vitally damaged. He spent a few days at the hospital and not too long after he came home, a sickness passed through the rest of the family members. During the last few days of my stay, I was doing the feeding and watering for all of the animals so the mother could recover. The family mostly stayed inside, resting and cooking the meals, which I felt was a great trade. Their food was also tasty – fortunately the hard work I was doing counteracted all of the calories I was intaking. 😉

Working there brought back a lot of childhood memories, from the years when my family had goats and chickens and full garden beds. When my friends came over, we would dress up like peasants and sweep the barn until it was spotless. When I went next door to see my friend, I would tag along as she did all of her chores, helping her carry water and of course always tasting the horses’ grain before we took it to them (it always smells better than it tastes). Over time as things like.. computer games and tv shows began to fill our time, and we no longer built forts in the woods, our property became the view out our window, not so much the land we were working. Of course I’ve spent the last 3 summers away from home, so maybe it’s just that I’m not around during the working season, but still – this stay in Denmark has taken me down memory lane.
It’s funny how leaving home can make you want to come back. Being here makes me want to dig my fingers into my home soil, start some crops, learn more about our local “weeds,” try to recreate Danish food for my family. Take my new experiences back to Washington. And at the same time I want to keep going, taking in every part of every country in the world. My traveling and domestic nature are always at war, it feels.

When I led Anna back to the pasture after my last milking and let her loose, I gave her an extra affectionate rub. She had given me a few good boxes in the ear with her tail, which I knew were meant for the flies yet sometimes felt very maliciously intentional all the same, but there were no hard feelings. That cow has a great life in front of her – a fertile pasture with trees, singing birds, and elderflower bushes all to herself – gentle owners, the beautiful surrounding Danish country, and great sunsets every night.
Good bye to the chickens, to the goose I’d always been paranoid would bite me when I reached in for his water dish but never did. Goodbye to the dogs, goodbye to the ducks – especially the one I called “Gimp” who had injured his leg so it twisted wrongly behind him and he half-hopped, half-fell in a way that would gain sympathy from even a stone heart.
Goodbye to the pigs, which really are greedy and ugly and obnoxiously loud and… blegh!
Goodbye to the gardens I tended, to the roses I trimmed. Goodbye to the tree I climbed to watch the sheep. Goodbye to those wonderful sheep, who were moved from the pasture and replaced by a pair of majestic horses. Bah.
Goodbye to the family who chooses this life, with its struggles and triumphs, who chooses this sort of wealth, and who shared it with me.

Now on, on to the next day, the next stop. Speaking of stops, they dropped me me off at the bus stop Friday, where I took a bus to Aalborg and spent the night at a place I’d found on Airbnb. I’m all for saving money and sleeping in bus stations, but other people that love me don’t like that idea as much. And couchsurfing in Aalborg, like all of the other tourist services in the city, is scant.
The people that owned the apartment were leaving on a trip, so I was given keys, shown around, and within ten minutes I had a small apartment, decorated in a quite fashionable and minimalistic European style, all to myself. Myself and two big, longhaired cats, that is. I took a walk around town, which has become familiar to me, and noted that on this Friday night, people were swarming to clubs and bars, while the library was a ghost town. I’ve been there twice now and each time there was a smattering of people and nilch librarians. What is wrong with this town? An empty library is a sad sight.
Everyone here rides bikes, and I mean EVERYONE. Old, young, large, slendor, in a skirt, frumpy, suit, Europeanly fashionable. They ride bikes with quaint baskets on the front up hills without breaking a sweat (something I’ve always admired people could do, since I think I was born missing the muscles necessary.) And no one locks their bike up – they lean against apartment buildings or stand in patches dozens thick, free.
I stopped at a store on the way back and bought bread, ripe peaches, and CHOCOLATE for about $7. That made up my dinner while I read half of Job and imagined what a musical of the book would be like. INTENSE, that’s what!
Note: it is a bit hard to sleep in Denmark right now, since the sun goes down after 10 and it starts to get light again at 4am! I was up early, anyway, since my bus to Hamburg left at 7:15.
Now… I hadn’t been able to exactly get my ticket for this bus. The family I was staying with didn’t have a printer, and when I was at the library it was too short notice to let me buy online. Eurolines told me to go to the nearest travel office but it took some digging online to figure out where that was. Remember what I said about Aalborg and tourist services? Yep. By then it was almost 8pm, and everything here seems to close early, so I deduced a trip to the travel office would probably turn out to be unhelpful. I figured if I showed up at the bus, Visa in hand, willing to pay, they couldn’t turn me down, right? And I noted that there was an ATM in the bus station in case I needed cash (I didn’t want to withdraw more Danish money than necessary).
Except that it turned out, when I showed up at the bus with my plastic and a hopeful, pleading expression, the bus driver gave me a disbelieving look and said “No card. Cash – Danish kroner.” in a thick accent. 
I went inside the bus station, but the ATM was in the section still closed off for the night. The driver just shrugged unhelpfully when I asked him where the nearest ATM was, like my travel plans were of no concern to him, and told me the bus left in ten minutes.
So I hefted my backpack (which weighs under 30 lbs, a fact I’m proud of) and hurried across the street to the train station, looking for a way to obtain some Danish Crowns. No luck. I headed into the city, half-running, scanning for a bank sign, an ATM, please. The rest of my peaches fell from their bag and rolled across the sidewalk, but there was no time to pick them up. Finally I spotted a bank and ran over to withdraw 500 crowns – I wanted to have enough! I kept looking at my watch. I had 3 minutes until the bus left – if the driver stuck to the schedule, that is. From his unattached air I wouldn’t be surprised if he left 3 minutes early, spelling my doom…these buses run 4 times a week, so the next one would probably be on Monday. This was the only bus to Hamburg that day, that weekend, and I didn’t want to think about what I would have to do if I missed it. I glanced at my watch again and imagined the bus pulling from the station, sliding through the streets and away, taking all my hopes with it.
Memories of Job came to mind as I jogged. Shall we accept only good from God, and not evil? Blessed be Your name! 😉
My light pack suddenly felt very heavy as I tried to run faster, praying the bus hadn’t left. I actually asked a taxi I passed if he would take me to the bus station- then only 2-3 blocks away – but he didn’t even look my way as he shook his head no, waiting for a traffic light to change. The whole city seemed ambivalent to my situation.
The moment, the revelation – I reached the station and rounded the corner so I could see if the bus was still there or not.
And it was! The bus driver actually lifted his eyebrows and smiled as, breathless and redfaced, I handed him the crowns.
I actually never even asked if he took US dollars… but I don’t even want to go there
So, the travel story of almost missing the bus/train/plane every traveler should have. I definitely said thank you to God several times during the bus ride.
And now I’m in Hamburg! I’ll post again soon. 🙂

This bus ride:
Book: The Outstretched Shadow by Mercedes Lackey
Music: Any Other World by Mika, Native by OneRepublic